Inclusion

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

 Stick around here long enough and you might notice I’m one of those pesky straight-talkers. Thanks, no applause. So one of the things (of the many, many things) that irks me about academia (and, sometimes, real life) is the tendency to not say what you mean, and hardly ever mean what you say.

So the debacle with Miss USA is really getting on my nerves.

Here’s how it goes, in the event that somehow you missed the Miss USA pageant (shock! horror!).

Two finalists, separated by mere decimal points. One from North Carolina, one from California. Blonde. Smiling. SO American Beauty.

They arrive at the “let’s be serious and answer Questions of Great Importance” part of the pageant. One gets a question on whether the US taxpayer should be bailing out failing companies. Easy, right? Tell people what they want to hear. No, they shouldn’t. Big applause and cheers. Smile, retreat in a billow of gown.

The other (Miss California, ironically) gets the same-sex marriage question. Unfazed, she answers that she is happy that we have the ability to choose, but that personally, she’s against it.

AND. THE. CROWD. BOOS.

She beats a hasty retreat, calling “no offense to anyone! It’s just how I was raised!!” And Perez Hilton, whose existence makes me wonder if there’s a God, bows his head and shakes it, ever so slightly.

Guess who won?

Yeah. NOT the girl who expressed her honest opinion in the face of overwhelming social pressure. Nope. The one who demurred and told people what they wanted to hear.

Is this really what we want?

You could argue that Miss USA needs to be representative of the opinions of the people. You could argue that she should express only the majority position, and not have personal convictions which may or may not be in line with the masses.

I hope that my daughter is able, one day, to express her position with grace and candor. I hope that, even in the face of great social pressure, she’s able to defend her position, no matter how unpopular it may be, if it deviates from the expected. And I hope her models for this are educated, graceful women who, even when booed by the audience, can stand tall, unwilling to compromise, even if it means second place.

Even if it means Perez Hilton shakes his head.

Because inclusion is all fun and games till you give yourself up to the lions.

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14 Responses to Inclusion

  1. “Perez Hilton, whose existence makes me wonder if there’s a God”

    HA! So right!

    I agree. She was honest and it took courage. And I think it’s hilarious that she’s from California.

  2. morsec0de says:

    “Yeah. NOT the girl who expressed her honest opinion in the face of overwhelming social pressure. Nope. The one who demurred and told people what they wanted to hear.”

    Why do you assume the one who ‘demurred’ wasn’t also speaking her honest opinion?

    Just curious. I didn’t watch it, as I never watch beauty pageants. But it boggles my mind why anyone cares what the contestants think about political or social issues. They just like to pretend it’s not a contest about superficial appearances.

  3. KathyB! says:

    I do not watch beauty pageants because they offend me on every level. I know there are those that think they have value, but I am not one of them. I’ve even avoided understanding the nature of this ruckus because I didn’t want to be sucked in to supporting the pageant in any way… you’re making it hard for me, though, Evenshine!

  4. I hadn’t heard about this before now because I, too, don’t normally follow beauty pageants. I am surprised, however, that anyone who has made it that far through the pageant routine, would be naive enough to actually give an answer that is so anti-Hollywood and anti-mainstream liberal. I’m personally not against same-sex marriage, but they did ask her for her opinion–and this is America, right? If Miss CA wanted to be in this game, she would have been smart to play it like the game it was.

  5. Evenshine says:

    First, let me disavow all following of beauty pageants that may have been implied by my post. I just happened uipon it…really.

    Morse- I don’t assume it. The other may very well have told her opinion. The point is (and perhaps I am making it very badly) that it shouldn’t matter what her opinion was- they were not, after all, supposed to have been judged on their opinion, but the way they expressed it.

    Mama’s point is especially good, and more to my conclusion: have we come to value the “majority” opinion, what “they” want to hear, or are we willing to come in second, while expressing unpopular (but true) opinions?

    Thanks for commenting! Hard to do on an opinion you’re against.

  6. morsec0de says:

    I say express your opinions.

    If an organization (like the people behind the pageant) doesn’t like it, then too bad. Boycott them. That’s your right to do so.

    If I were in a beauty pageant (never happen, due to not being beautiful, and being a dude) and, for example, I was asked a religious question, I would be honest and say I was an atheist. And the way the culture currently is, that would probably count against me. But I’d still tell the truth.

    Truth be told, if that was an issue, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to be in the competition in the first place.

  7. insider53 says:

    oh.. angry today… I like it. Haven’t watched that pageant in years but it’s always better to tell the truth. You may lose but your integrity is intact.

  8. ck says:

    Just imagine what it will be like 10 years from now.

  9. faemom says:

    I’m just wondering why you would ask those kinds of questions to those kinds of girls. They’re not politicians. They’re beauty contestants. Let’s just ask them what designer they perfer or their favorite beauty trick. They’re not being rated on their . . . um . . . intellegence or their would be a written exam, no a bikini section.

  10. KathyB! says:

    I didn’t think for a moment that you, personally, were into the pageants. It’s not at all how I envision you! I was just pointing out that I was unaware of what was going on…

  11. evenshine says:

    insider- it may be that it’s always better to tell the truth, but it’s hardly going to get you that sparkly crown. Thanks for commenting.

  12. evenshine says:

    ck- no thanks. I hope to have retired and be living in Barbados by then!

  13. evenshine says:

    fae- yes, but there’s still some vestige of reality- that these girls might have to form a coherent sentence. I, too, am surprised that it’s still a part of the competition.

  14. Gibby says:

    I could argue that there should be NO Miss USA, but whatever. I saw an interview with Hilton afterwards and he said she should have been told that question was going to be asked. Why? So that she could prepare an answer that the judges wanted to hear? Ridiculous. It doesn’t matter what her opinion is, as long as she can articulate it, she is entitled to it.

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